My apparatus frees the composer from the despotism of the twelve-note tempered piano scale.
- Lev Sergeivich Theremin, 1927
Anthony Jay Ptak is an altermodern artist and a composer born in Brooklyn, New York in 1970. He grew up near the Brookhaven National Laboratory and the RCA Radio Central testing facility. An inviolable
autodidacticist, he has studied with Tony Conrad, Paul Sharits,
Lydia Kavina, and Herbert Brün, and had technical consultations with Robert Moog. He performed at the First International Theremin Festival. He has been a guest theremin artist under director Scott Wyatt at
the historic Experimental Music Studios at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 2000. He was appointed visiting researcher in 2001, and participated in the C4A Computing for the Arts initiative for Fine and Applied Arts at UIUC. He taught sound art and musique concrète for new media artists at the School of Art and Design at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has presented at Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS), School of the Art Institute, Chicago Cultural Center, St.
Louis Art Museum, Krannert Art Museum, FFMUP Princeton University, Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, Roulette Intermedium, The Kitchen, and Issue Project Room in New York. He was first introduced to the theremin in 1987 by improviser Eric Ross. He began playing an etherwave theremin kit 0017 in 1995. A. J. Ptak is a founding member of the New York Theremin Society. He currently resides in New York City and was a visiting scholar at NYU Department of Art and Art Professions. In fall 2008 he was admitted to the Interactive Telecommunications Program ( (ITP) at Tisch School of the
Arts, (M.P.S. 2010). He performed Live Bar-coding at NIME 2010 Sydney, Australia. In 2011 he joined adjunct faculty at NYU Department of Music. Anthony Ptak was diagnosed with brain cancer CNS lymphoma in 2011, currently in remission.
New music of this twenty-first century requires, in fact it necessitates, a non-music. Sound as art is an axis of information constrained only by our perceptive bandwidth, dismissive of all systems and parameter limitations.
- Anthony Jay Ptak, 2006
Anthony Ptak performing Interference in 2006.
stars1997 20 year anniversary photo of lesson with Lydia Kavina. Photo by Olivia Mattis.
Table of Contents
Livestrong Ambassador YMCA
I was diagnosed with CNS Lymphoma (brain cancer) in 2011. This form of cancer has a devastating effect on the central nervous system. I lost control of my left hand, arm, and leg. My vision was also double. I was told by my doctor that if
I worked to retrain my body and mind I could recover much of my strength and function. Fortunately I found out about the Livestrong Program at the YMCA in 2012. I partnered with my trainers Janet and Yalitza at the Chinatown YMCA
to work on strength training, cardio exercise, swimming, aerobics, and even basketball, and boxing to get myself in shape. Most importantly going to the YMCA built my confidence, as I continue to recover today. I consider the
YMCA a home away from home, a place where I am welcomed, and encouraged to grow mentally and physically. Thank you YMCA. -ANTHONY PTAK, 2010s | CHINATOWN YMCA
ADI 2016 Gallery slides 2016
ADI Gallery slides for application, 2016. linkSlide show gallerywork for artist nomination application review.
My goals as an artist are to promote acceptance of difference and to design a society which allows for empathy and degrees of freedom despite the constraints we may find ourselves challenged by — whether genetically encoded, or otherwise
acquired, in the complexities of our society.
— Anthony Ptak, 2015
ADI Symposium 2017
Thursday, May 18, 2017 • 2:00pm - 8:30pm. Dedalus Foundation, 25 E 21st Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10010.
ADI Exhibition Opening Reception
Thursday, June 22, 2017 • 6:00pm - 8:00pm. The Gallery at Industry City, entrance at 254 or 274 36th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11232.
On view from Thursday, June 22, 2017 - Saturday, July 22, 2017.
I bridge distances between disparate communities. I speak the language of technologists, create change, and advocate access and openness by seeing what others will not see, and saying what others will not say. I am an artist, composer, interaction designer, educator, critical thinker, musical scientist, performer, public speaker, writer and brain cancer survivor.
- Anthony Jay Ptak, 2017
Sweet Gongs Vibrating 2016
UCSD. SDAI. San Diego Art Institute, 1439 El Prado, San Diego. Sweet Gongs Vibrating is a multimedia, multi-sensory exhibition that aspires to activate the sensorial qualities of objects in order to illustrate alternative narratives regarding
access, place and space. Brought to you by SDAI curator-in-residence Amanda Cachia, Sweet Gongs Vibrating opens Saturday,
March 26, from 6 to 8 p.m. and runs through Saturday, May 28, 2016.
Difference Frequencies NYC Art Exhibition at the Creative Center, October 2nd through November 28th, 2015: Houston Street Center, 273 Bowery St. New York, New York.
Featured solo performance of Difference Frequencies by violinist Serge Zenisek on October 2nd, 2015.
An article in Upworthy about this exhibition, read here. Also featured on NYU Tisch ITP site here Tweet Notes on an exhibition
Difference Frequencies. Because it encompasses ideas about Difference in the social sense of Disability, and a more theoretical understanding of wave based physics, and biological differences found in the Trisomy realm of genetic encoding.
And the political and social dialectic that produces a difference as a product of input to a given systematic schema. The answer lies somewhere in the numbers 3 and 21. -A.J. Ptak 7/2015
Make Music New York presents... 12 Theremini Mass Appeal ensemble performance on Roosevelt Island FDR Four Freedoms Park conducted and composed by Alexa Dexa. Summer
2015. Theremini workshop sponsored in part by Moog Music
September 19, 2014 7:30 – 10:00PM a special live event – Anthony Ptak performs theremin soundtrack live as part of Narratively After Dark at Photoville NYC. Accompanied by world premiere of the Xtremecane project,
a video art projection and live Question/Answer session at Brooklyn Bridge Park, NYC.
Diagnosed with CNS lymphoma, brain cancer in February 2011. In remission since August 2011 after undergoing chemotherapy.
linkRead DNAinfo story here. linkRead Narratively story here. linkWatch the video
Up!produced by the YMCA of New York City.
linkSolving Problems within Constraints:
LocateFlowInterview by neuroscience researcher Eathan Janney, recorded at New Media Lab, CUNY.
linkView the @Sabi_brand cane blog feature.
Architectures of Sound Wednesday, January 13, 2010 Doors Open at 8PM Site-specific performance and composition.
Issue Project Room @ The (OA) Can Factory 232 3rd Street, 3rd Floor Brooklyn, NY 11215. MATA Interval 3.1.
Announcement on Sequenza21.
Project 21 for Big Screens 2009 was designed Fall of 2009. It was on view at the IAC Building on 555 W 18th Street,
New York, NY. Friday, December 4, 2009 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm. Interactive Telecommunications Program. Screen dimensions for the video wall 120 ft x 12 ft.
The unpredictability of this composition system is intended to be offset and is unstable by design. I utilize simple means to produce complex results. The relation of the antenna to the work is an anti-communicative one. Failure of communication
produces argument, and as a consequence, thought, provocation, and a new system. This work has a social concern. A concern about all transmissions and how they operate in our experience. A public will be conscious of a system in operation,
its traces, and possibilities modulated from one's choice to action. In this circumstance we must depend on each other for information. As we acquire information we make decisions. In making decisions we are learning. In learning we
are composing language. I am interested in what takes place between the transmission of the work itself, and the receiver of the work, in the development of these continuously offset hierarchies, in a system of encoding and decoded information.
(Informodulation for exhibition Between Thought and Sound at the Kitchen 2007) - AJ Ptak
Informodulation.08 48 inches x 72 inches on canvas.
New performance scheduled for 8:30pm on June 20th, 2009 at Roulette Intermedium. 20 Green Street, New York, NY. Details about this performance with Cyrus Pireh and David Means described here.
Saturday, June 20, 2009 @ 8:30 pm
20 Greene Street between Canal and Grand Streets, SoHo, New York, NY.
TumbleweedA collaborative performance installation for prepared electric guitars, theremin and projections David Means with Cyrus Pireh and Anthony Ptak. Tumbleweed combines archival images from the American dust bowl with interactions and improvisations
of musicians and live electronics.
The most anticipated 2008 performance at The Stone in East Village of New York City. Series curator
Elliott Sharp. Scheduled for March 25, 2008 at 10:00 pm. Location is at the corner of Avenue C and 2nd Street. Theremin antenna control of digital oscillators, software,
and acousmatic sound.
Aelita at International House 3701 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA. February 9th 2008
at 8:00 pm. Theremin sound for film with Gene Coleman and Ensemble Noamnesia. Aelita, Queen of Mars. Russia, 1924. 100 min. Discussion and demonstration
to follow screening and performance.
Addenda published January 2008 on Seasonal. Addenda series curator is Ben Owen. Photo plus audio file contributions. Aedan Hearing Test Incident New York City December, 2007. Recording April, 2007. Unprocessed. Copper Pipe in Grain Silo Elevator Urbana, Illinois.
Two theremins and electronic visual projections at Galapagos Art Space in Williamsburg Brooklyn on December 26, 2007 at 8:00 pm. Located at 70 North
6th Street Brooklyn, New York 11211. Javier Diez Ena, theremin. Anthony Ptak, theremin. Zach Layton, projections. Darmstadt Contemporary Music Series.
Ensemble featuring monochord by Ptak in improv performance with Cyrus Pireh on alto sax, Matt Mehlan on alto sax, and Tony Lowe on guitar at Zebulon Cafe Concert in Williamsburg Brooklyn on November 14, 2007 at 10:00 pm.
The Kitchen 512 West 19th Street New York, NY. Exhibition September 7 through October 20, 2007. Between Thought and Sound: Graphic Notation in Contemporary Music. Opening
reception on Friday September 7, 2007 at 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm.
Exploring the intersection of drawing and sound, this show includes experimental scores by more than twenty contemporary composers who relinquish traditional musical notation in favor of their own invented visual systems of pictorial or
Curated by Alex Waterman, Debra Singer, and Matthew Lyons.
Insistentia.07: Version for Miguel Abreu Gallery New York, NY 2007
Program note by Anthony Jay Ptak (b. 1970)
In a public space where people are speaking, and not necessarily to one another, there are messages being sent. Each utterance of sound is a transmission, a reception, an exchange offset by noise. A moment of speech is an incident. When
these moments, or indices, coincide they are coincident. Coincident relations are not intentioned. They occur in the recognition of our perception of a system of relations. A coincident dichotomy can produce a third object, out of difference,
that would not have otherwise been perceived. The action of observation produces an affect on that system which is being observed. Compositional practice (that is message transmission and reception) is dependant on an axiom, a mutable
operand of distraction, as an audience listens for this message.
37th Festival Synthese Bourges June 10, 2007. Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges, France. Melancholy - Projet Oeuvre Ouverte.
The Sympathetic (2007) Duration: 5:00 minutes Composer: Anthony Jay Ptak
Program Note: The Sympathetic refers to the sympathy of others, as well as to sympathetic vibrations in sound. Melancholy is the transitory resonance or emotional
affect of this work. In this sound space it is hoped that the work alters the human spirit in musical consolation. Although the elapsed time of this composition is five minutes, the perceived duration is infinite. The loneliness, fears,
and despondency of a melancholic human struggle is transformed, as a transcendental aural reflection dissipates into an ether of tears and joy. The inspired contradiction of this sadness leaves the listener of this music in a disposition
of feeling an effervescent melancholia. - A.J. Ptak
An evening of live projections and musical performances featuring unique collaborations between sound and image makers utilizing unusual instruments and sources including the theremin, brainwaves, photocells, oscilloscopes, X-rays, contact
microphones, anamorphic lenses, and the magic lantern.
Participating artists Maria Chavez, Angie Eng, Bradley Eros, Andy Graydon, Sarah Ibrahim, Zach Layton, Anthony Ptak,
Joel Schlemowitz, Lary Seven, Ray Sweeten, and Keiko Uenishi each perform solos and duets that explore the subversions and rediscoveries connecting science, mystery, and desire.
Theremin Society IV 2007 BAM Brooklyn Next Festival
February 24, 2007 The couplings series presented as part of Brooklyn Academy of Music Brooklyn NEXT festival. Issue Project Room's Theremin Society performance at
Issue Project Room, 400 Carroll Street between Bond and Nevins Brooklyn, New York.
Duo performances with:
Anthony Ptak and Nicolas Collins. Michael Evans and Andrea Parkins. Rob Schwimmer and Dorit Chrysler. David Simons and Lisa Karrer. Elizabeth Brown and Stephanie Skaff.
Ophoniste #ccc medal in collaborative sound performance What Time is Love with Amy Granat. Included cell phone, broken glass, and utensils.
Jury: Andrew Phillips ( Flavorpill) Michael J Schumacher ( Diapason) Nick Stillman ( PS1).
"The Four Ophones "is an interactive sound installation that allows the users to record sounds that are replayed infinitely until replaced by other sounds. The installation
provides a space for playful musical collaboration and language-independent conversations where the visitors themselves become composers, instrumentalists, and listeners at the same time. The Ophones foster everything from subtle interference
etudes to collaborative chanting, semi-automated social commentary to dense polyrhythmic drone parties." - Unsworn
Sound Art for Sound Minds A lecture and performance series sponsored by the Lorado Taft Lectureship on Art. Featuring sound artist Nicolas Collins. Opening antenna interference performance by Anthony Ptak.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, November 9, 2006, 7:30 pm.
Experience this new media interactive art work at the Krannert Art Museum on view from August 24 through September 24, 2006 located at 500 East Peabody Drive, Urbana-Champaign,
Informodulation.Mixed media (metal electrode, horn, oscillator.) I find an intuitive sense of electro-magnetism. I observe changes in the atmosphere. One is made aware of the perpetual syntactic flux of communal
affect. The fragility of our environment is counter balanced only by the unpredictability of influence. Every decision made swings the pendulum into frenetic micro oscillations rendering macroscopic capacitance shifts. A society is prescient
in the presence of an anti-communicative resonance that makes one necessary. Informodulation is our state of resistance wrapped in a valanced capacity for making an impossible social change by modulating the infrastructure of temporary
systems we perceive in dissipation. Information presents itself. One interprets. Modulation results in an action one chooses to take. Each gesture is a provocation in a field of indexes. - AJ Ptak
Points in a Circle: Site-Specific Works for the Hemispheres at Issue Project Room
Points in a Circle July 8, 2006 8pm at Issue Project Room 400 Carroll Street between Bond and Nevins Brooklyn, New
York. Site-specific work presented on IPR's 16-Channel Hemispheric Speaker System. Multi-oscillator polyphonic theremin performance with Cyrus Pireh, Stephan Moore, and David Linton.
The End of Music.
I recognize the end of music. As an artist I establish a relation without enforcing a relation. An audience, that is to say a public, ought never be captive. A space can be transformed by the unfamiliar in an arena of recognition. The
work is the connection made by the receiver of information, the transmission is the catalyst for this exchange. My expectations are to modulate the signal of infrastructure, to utilize simple means to produce complex results. The theremin
is electromagnetism, aether made present in the modulation of transformative wave energy that inducts and traces an exponential axis of gestural interference. The frequency of oscillation
along a unified temporal axis, reflects a recursive bridging of distance in a soundscape of interference. We listen to the world as a system of associative indices. Sound is a physical axis that occupies and transforms space. The heterophony of
the theremin antenna is navigation. - AJ Ptak
Acrosynaxis performance for thereminvox
Utilizing the theremin's principle of interference to feed back into itself an exponential deconstruction of the instrument, the frequency of oscillation along a unified temporal axis, reflects a recursive bridging of distance in a
soundscape of interference. Much like the 1000th of a second captured image of Warrick's hovering hummingbird, or the Kino-Glaz reality 24 times per second delineated by Dziga Vertov, or John Cage's Future of Music Credo which alludes to Beethoven as a material operating at 50 times per second and rejects imitative use of the theremin. This electro-acousmatic work concentrates on sound as a carrier of information.
- AJ Ptak
24-channel collaborative work in a former US postal facility with 13 of my sound artist students. Part of an immersive arts event Late Night Space curated by improviser Jason Finkelman for Boneyard
Arts Festival. Sponsored by 40 North Champaign County Arts, Culture and Entertainment Council.
Thereminism. I use this term in order to differentiate a twenty-first century advocacy for the advancement of this antenna instrument of inventor Lev Termen from any fixed ideas. The theremin is electromagnetism, aether
made present in the modulation of transformative wave energy that inducts and traces an exponential axis of gestural interference. - AJ Ptak
Theremin Orchestra December 2, 2005 8pm at Issue Project Room 400 Carroll Street between Bond and Nevins Brooklyn, New York
Thereminism. I use this term in order to differentiate a twenty-first century advocacy for the advancement of this antenna instrument of inventor Lev Termen from any fixed ideas. The theremin is electromagnetism, aether made
present in the modulation of transformative wave energy that inducts and traces an exponential axis of gestural interference. - AJ Ptak
The Art of Music STAC Exhibition July 23 to August 27, 2005 at Mills Pond House Gallery 660 Route 25A St. James, New York.
This artwork is intended to evoke both the abstract and functional aspects of music. It is a visual representation of the physical space music occupies. It is also an instrument that can be played in any tuning configuration. Vibration is
transferred from steel to wood. Many experiments were done using a device called a monochord inspired by the mathematician Pythagoras in the 6th century BC; it had one string used to measure ratios. Ekphonetic notation, to which the title
refers, was one of the earliest attempts to systematize the way in which we hear (reception) and play music (transmission). This notation was based on speech and not exact pitch in Greece and Asia in the 5th to 7th centuries AD. Sulponticello
means to play near or on the bridge of the instrument resulting in a sound with a voice-like rasp when bowed and more upper harmonic frequencies when plucked. With this instrument the artist seeks to create complex results from simple
economical means. The work serves as a kinetic reference to the temporal (horizontal) and the timbral (vertical) aspects of a musical axis. The receiver of this work is encouraged to examine systems critically and to experiment as listener,
observer, and composer in the world. - AJ Ptak
Thereminther e minsometimestern -s [after Leo Theremin b. 1896 engineer and inventor]: a purely melodic instrument of the electronic family typically played by moving the right hand between two projecting electrodes with the left hand controlling dynamics and articulation -ther e min ist1.
1.G & C Merriam Co. 1971 p. 2372 Webster's Third New International
The Copper Pipe Project
Copper Pipe invented instrument built 1995. An audience, that is to say a public, ought never be captive. In my public works I attempt to establish a relation without
enforcing a relation. Listening is a way we navigate a space. This space can be transformed by the unfamiliar in the arena of recognition. The work is the connection made by the receiver of information, the transmission is the catalyst
for this exchange. Related compositions include Incidentia.01 and American Copper.
Wavefields CD The Experimental Music Studios of UIUC, Fall 2005 release. Liner notes: Axoxnxs (2005) [7:00] This electro- acousmatic work concentrates on sound as a carrier
of information. We listen to the world as a system of associative indices. The acoustics of the natural world are analyzed, along with synthetically generated phenomena. Sound is a physical axis that occupies and transforms space. The
heterophony of the theremin antenna is navigation. All sonic materials acquired, performed, and assembled by the composer. - AJ Ptak